Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Alex Evers
As always, we begin with the contenders that are Trending.
Califorinia Chrome | A. Sherman | V. Espinoza Lucky Pulpit - Love the Chase by Not for Love Last: G2 San Felipe - 1st Next: Santa Anita Derby 50 Points
California Chrome delivers. Coming into to the G2 San Felipe Stakes, the California bred
colt was highly regarded in many 2014 Kentucky Derby rankings. This was despite his
Juvenile season ending on such a sour note (6th G1 Del Mar Futurity,
6th in the Golden Gate Juvenile). Secondly, he was still considered
a top contender even though he had zero Kentucky Derby points.
But, it was time for the San Felipe, a race where he would prove that he was every bit as good as many expected him to be. Nothing less than absolute domination from start to finish, California
Chrome went wire to wire against one of the most talented field of 3-yr-olds we
have seen so far.
it is time for the big questions. How much will California Chrome be trending
now? Was this win enough to make him the number one contender overall? If not,
then should he at least be number one out west over Candy Boy?
Ring Weekend | G. Motion | D. Centeno Tapit - Free the Music by Cryptoclearance Last: G2 Tampa Bay Derby - 1st Next: Undecided 50 points
my name is Ring Weekend. Never heard of me? Well then, let me tell you why I’m
trending. Prior to this weekend the KY bred gelding was unheard of for a reason. Trained by Graham Motion, Ring Weekend just
recently broke his maiden. It was February 8 at Gulfstream Park and his fifth MSW
attempt where he finally got over the hump and made it to the winners circle
for the very first time.
must have really liked it. Faced with overcoming 14-1 odds and a field that
included three highly rated Kentucky Derby contenders, Ring Weekend broke from
the gate, went straight to the lead and never looked back in the G2 Tampa Bay
Derby. Although he didn’t have a close challenger, like California Chrome did, his wire to wire win was just as impressive. And so, from the depths of the
unknown to the Kentucky Derby, Ring Weekend has arrived.
Grade 2 Rebel Stakes
only Kentucky Derby Qualification race this coming weekend will be the G2 Rebel Stakes at Oak Lawn. Of all the prep races so far, this one deserves
to have the spotlight all to itself. With the defection of Bayern from the San
Felipe due to minor injury, I think this race now has the most talented
3-yr-olds so far.
yes, even though Honor Code is not running in the Rebel I still think so. We’re
going to be talking about this race all week so it’s definitely trending. How
could it not be, you’ve read about these contenders quite a bit too, right: Strong
Mandate, Tapiture, Kobe’s Back, Ride on Curlin.
Mandate and Tapiture are the top two but you won’t be able to discount the others
so easily. And, who’s to say the next Ring Weekend isn’t lingering?
– He couldn’t catch Ring Weekend in the Tampa Bay Derby but the runner up earned 20 points and he is
preparing nicely for his next Kentucky Derby prep. He may need a good effort, and more points, to qualify but he’s trending in that direction.
Honor Code – The long wait is over, Honor Code is expected to make his 3-yr-old debut
at Gulfstream Park this week; 1 1/16 mile allowance race in the 8th
race on Wednesday. If all goes well his qualification for the Kentucky Derby
will be decided next time out in either the Wood Memorial or Florida Derby.
Unfortunately the Derby trail is not always so kind. So, we shift to the hopefuls that are Descending.
Conquest Titan | M. Casse | S. Bridgmohan Birdstone - Miner's Secret by Mineshaft Last: G2 Tampa Bay Derby - 4th Next: Undecided 9 Points
can I not put him into this category? Highly regarded, big expectations in the
Tampa Bay Derby, he did not deliver and now he’s on the bubble. The poor
performance is by no means the end of his Kentucky Derby hopes but now Conquest Titan faces
the proverbial challenge: next race decides your Kentucky Derby fate.
to the TB Derby his runner up finish in the Holy Bull had him at 4 points.
After a 4th place finish Conquest Titan only jumped 5 points to land
at a very uninspiring number; 9 points. I’m not certain where trainer Mark
Casse will send him next but no matter where it is he will need to finish in the top three in order to keep his derby
hopes alive. If it is the Florida Derby then there will be absolutely zero room
for error as another 4th place finish and only 10 points (19 total)
is not likely to be enough in 2014.
Bond Holder | D'Oneill | M. Gutierrez Mineshaft - Cielo Girl by Conquistador Cielo Last: G1 CashCall Futuriy - 4th Next: Undecided 11 Points
been a very tough season thus far for the Doug O’Neill colt. Bond Holder did not make it into the Trending vs. Descending edition last week
due to his potential start in the Tampa Bay Derby. However, he wasn’t ready and
he has now missed two consecutive starts.
decline began when he suffered a minor injury en route to the Fair Grounds for
the G2 Risen Star Stakes. The decision was then made to send him down to Tampa
Bay Downs as opposed to flying back to California for the G2 San Felipe Stakes.
However, recovery stalled and Bond Holder was withdrawn from the Tampa Bay
Derby. So, the winner of the G1 Frontrunner Stakes is stuck at 11 points and
without a race in the 3-yr-old season. The outlook isn’t good as the foot
problem isn’t getting better. Nothing is official but more than likely the
bubble has burst and there will be no Kentucky Derby for Bond Holder.
Bayern | B. Baffert | G. Stevens Offlee Wild - Alittlebitearly by Thunder Gulch Last: 1 Mile Allowance - 1st Next: Undecided 0 Points
he is descending but maybe it’s only a minor decline before he recovers and
catapults his way into the Kentucky Derby field. Doable but it is not nearly as
easy as it sounds.
coming into 2014 because he did not race as a Juvenile, Bayern quickly got our
attention with back to back scores at Santa Anita in January and February. From
there Trainer Bob Baffert easily had him ready for graded stakes action and the
San Felipe Stakes. However, a bruised quarter led to him being scratched and
Bayern will now rest/recover for a better day.
time is running out with zero points to your name. The Santa Anita Derby or
Arkansas Derby will require a first or second place finish in order qualify.
Again, everything is doable but this colt with a pedigree tied to the 1995
Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch still faces a more challenging road than he
did just 1 week ago.
Midnight Hawk - He
disappointed Bob Baffert in the San Felipe but he now has 32 points and a
probable ticket to the Kentucky Derby. So, he’s trending? And that’s where I’m
stumped because maybe he is or maybe he’s really not. Does he have the distance
for the Kentucky Derby? And that’s the big question because if he doesn’t I don’t
believe Baffert will send him to Churchill Downs.
the Derby Trail
Holder isn’t here officially but as of Saturday morning Top Billing is now on
this list. A cracked cannon bone in his right front leg was discovered after breezing
at on Saturday morning. Trainer Shug McGaughey says however that the long range
prognosis is good. So, as unfortunate as the injury is, hopefully we will see
Top Billing return to racing later this year.